About "lawlessness" in Minneapolis

We don't usually think about it this way, but "law" is violence organized according to a set of rules. Think about it: when someone refuses to comply with the rules we call law, the state steps in to enforce those rules - penalizing that person by using force to take something away, whether life, liberty, or property.

When people say that the US is a nation of laws or that it operates under rule of law, they're referring to the uniform manner in which state violence is organized and applied.

When the law is not uniformly applied, it is no longer the law. When you leave your home every day knowing you can be stopped, searched, questioned, ticketed, fined, arrested, beaten, tased, or shot, and it's not because of what you did but because of who you are, that's not law. That's random state violence.

Lawlessness didn't break out in Minneapolis when protesters smashed windows. Lawlessness broke out when Minneapolis police stopped enforcing the law and started enacting random state violence on black people.

And when the state is the source of lawlessness, it can't fix that problem by intensifying state violence. More violence does not create more lawfulness.

The public execution of George Floyd, carried out by four police officers acting in concert, was by any standards a shocking and despicable act of violence, motivated by racial hatred and carried out under color of the law. It was acknowledged as such by the Minneapolis police chief.

But the lawlessness that George Floyd's execution created was echoed and amplified when the chief of police fired the four but did not arrest them. As much or even more than the killing itself, the message that consequences for these four would be delayed (at least) smashed any semblance of law and order in Minneapolis into a million jagged-edged pieces.

Four days after a brutal, public execution the four known perpetrators of the crime walk free not in spite of but because their actions were taken in the name of the state — in the name of the law.

Windows can be replaced, merchandise written off as a loss for insurance or tax purposes, burned buildings leveled and rebuilt. They are not the problem. The real lawlessness in the streets of Minneapolis - the lawlessness of an organized gang wearing government issue badges - will take much more to remedy.

Green Party of Connecticut Co-Chair; GPCT 2018 Candidate for Connecticut Attorney General (pronouns: he/him/his) *Opinions expressed are solely my own.